My college soccer coach used to always yell, “Get your head in the game,” whenever things started to fall apart on the field. In my head I always responded, “Stop being a psychologist and be my coach!” After some years of running I’ve realized that “having your head in the game” is just as important as the physical aspects of running.
Runner and author, George Sheenen writes, “It’s very hard to understand in the beginning that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice in your head that wants to quit.” Running requires intrinsic motivation, or internal motivation. You won’t last as a runner if you are only motivated by outside, superficial influences. Sometimes others will push you, but most of the time you will have to learn to push yourself. It’s cold, raining, the grass needs mowed, you’re tired from work, it’s too early, and the question comes, “Will you still get out the door and run?”
In my last article I wrote about good running form. I hope you’ve been out practicing it. This week I want to focus on wrapping your head around running. Here are some pointers to get your head in the right place so that you have longevity as a runner.
First, don’t waste time and mental energy staring out the window at horrible weather trying to decide if you are going to run or not. Just put on your shoes and get outside. Think positively prior to a workout. Think about how you will enjoy the run. When negative thoughts start to creep in, replace them with the opposite.
Be confident. Don’t let other runners intimidate you. Running is an individual sport as well as a process, and no one improves without practice. You are on your own journey. Author John Bingham writes, “Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do.” Remember that you are the center of your story. That includes running.
Create a “running mantra”; Something you can say to yourself when you want to quit. Effective mantras address how you want to feel, not the adversity you are trying to overcome. Olympic runner Deena Kastor’s mantra is, “Define yourself.” Elite Ultra Marathon Runner Scott Jurek’s mantra is, “This is what you came for.” Give it some thought and come up with your own phrase to get you through the rough patches.
When running gets monotonous, it’s time to get creative in your goals. Such as: run a certain distance, complete a distance in a certain time, run all the way up a hill, or take fewer walk breaks. It’s also good to try running a new route or at a different time of day.
You only have 23 days till the Burn Your Lungs Run. So it’s time to, “Get your head in the game!”